If, indeed, management failed to meet safety standards, that seems to be a universal problem in mining worldwide, and those issues assuredly will be covered. But, the primary story here is how you keep the miners below ground and their families above ground under control. Frustrations on both fronts, coupled by the obvious “living” conditions the miners suffer, have very definite combustible potential. While the miners are not exposed to the media stories like their families, having to cope in such a small, dark space for months is an unimaginable challenge.
Managing expectations both above and below ground will take a Herculean effort, but management seems to already have begun that by projecting the rescue will be a four month project. Anything shorter will be celebrated as a victory.
The mining company has to maintain as much media focus as possible on the miners and their continued well-being. Media definitely will be watching that, but also looking at, and reporting on, the reported safety violations, and filing ongoing stories of how families are coping. Emotions and reactions will evolve as everyone deals with the frustrations of waiting, watching and wondering. Some will become impatient. They’ll be worried that some of the 33 miners may not survive.
Solid and consistent psychological advice and support is critical for these relatives as well as the mine’s management. Executives must make sure that the families are being cared for as much as their trapped men.This advice, too, should be accessible to the media to get their assistance in managing expectations. If not, the ongoing story could spiral further from their control.